Updated: Jan 27, 2021
Stuck indoors during these trying times? Staying mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy can be difficult. Nina and Justin talk challenges during COVID-19 and provide some helpful tips that can make your stay at home a little more manageable.
If you haven't already checked out the episode, head on over to The Lunita Podcast and give Episode 6: Quarantine Edition a listen. Remember to subscribe to the Podcast, leave us a review if you like the show, and give us a follow on Instagram for updates and conversations with the community.
On this episode, Nina and Justin discuss the everyday personal challenges that come from being quarantined and socially distanced, how we're holding up here in NYC, and some pro tips to help you stay positive, sane, and even productive during these uncertain and trying times.
*NOTE: The views expressed in this episode are from the perspective of two non-essential, self-employed parents. While we are extremely grateful for the opportunity and ability to stay home, we are fully aware that this is not everyone's reality.
We want to give a big shoutout to the essential workers that are continuing to grind every day to keep society from coming to a complete standstill, and we want to give another HUGE shoutout to the medical professionals and emergency service providers that are on the front lines of this global crisis. We see you, we love you, and we appreciate you. Thank you.
Some Challenges Many are Facing
We're not going to go into the details of all the challenges people are facing during these difficult times, but here are a few just to give you an idea:
Increases in anxiety across the board
Feelings of loss in productivity, motivation, and focus
Feelings of depression
Feelings of loss of control
Changes in eating habits
More screen time
Increase in Stress
Addictive behaviors and urges coming to the forefront
No alone time
Loss of Patience! (especially for those that have children)
Financial Scarcity and Fear
And sooooo much more...
You get the point, but this post and episode are not about all the challenges we're facing, it's about handling these challenges to the best of our abilities and continuing to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy during these times.
Pro Tips for Staying Emotionally and Mentally Healthy
1. Limit Your News Intake
No matter how much media you are consuming at this time, it is important to be aware of the long- and short-term effects constant negativity has on your emotional and mental well-being. We encourage you to stay informed but to give yourself deserved breaks from the television, your phone, and the computer.
We try to keep our news consumption limited to 40 minutes a day; 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening. We understand this may not be the exact time frame that works for everyone, especially if it's your job to stay informed on the news. But try not to have it be the first thing you seek out in the morning or the last thing you focus on before bed.
We also recommend you sign up for any alerts that your city may be offering, as it helps keep you up-to-date without having to sift through all the negativity and potential misinformation.
2. Try to Stay Physical
This is easier said than done. First, we want to state that it is perfectly OK if you do not have the emotional or physical stamina to exercise.
With that said, keeping up with our regular exercise schedule has kept us in a more clear, positive head space. Even if you can't do your full routine, there are plenty of options online. Check the resources down below for a couple of our recommendations.
If you did have a trainer or personal fitness instructor prior to this pandemic, and you can afford to continue paying them, please consider supporting them by taking their online courses. Their online workouts are just as good and can be the difference between stability and financial hardship for many during this time.
3. Get Quality Sleep
We know how difficult it can be to relax when you are having racing thoughts, especially during these troubling times. It often feels like a massive task to get to bed on schedule these days. However, it's important to remember that sleep is an essential part of being healthy.
It's recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Sleep not only gives your mind a chance to renew itself, but studies show that getting quality, consistent sleep can also help boost your immune system.
We recommend removing all blue light from your room at least 30 minutes before bed and creating a realistic sleep schedule for yourself. For us, this often consists of a cup of decaffeinated tea before bed and some light stretching, journaling, reading, meditating or listening to a calming podcast. We are currently obsessed with the podcast Get Sleepy and highly recommend it for those nights that nothing else seems to work.
4. Make Disinfecting a Routine
Over the last month, we have become much more diligent about our daily disinfecting routine. We try to not overdo it and stay within a reasonable realm of following what is suggested by the CDC.
Regardless of if we leave the house (which is limited to our desolate rooftop for fresh air and sunshine, or going to the grocery store / pharmacy), we disinfect all high-contact areas in our home twice a day. That includes doorknobs, phones, counter tops, sink handles, light switches, etc.
We also keep the windows open as much as possible and burn sage every night before bed, to cleanse the home of whatever residual negative thoughts are lingering in the air.
5. Know that we are all in this together
Human beings are, by nature, social creatures, and it can feel very unnatural for us to be cooped up inside our homes all day with few people to talk to. Even if you are living alone or feeling completely lost, please know that you are not alone.
It can make a big difference to reach out to friends and family on a semi-regular basis, not only for your well-being but to check in on them as well. Whether you are doing zoom sessions with your entire family or face-timing your BFF on the west coast every night for a bi-coastal cocktail hour, making an effort to stay connected and build / maintain a social support system is of the utmost importance.
6. Find a Creative Outlet / Learn Something New
If you have the time, energy or willpower to take up a hobby, it can be a welcome change of routine that brings a little peace of mind to your routine. You could use this time to start that book you've always wanted to write, brush up on your painting skills, or even learn a new language.
But also, don't put yourself down if you just don't have the motivation or energy. It's perfectly OK to binge your favorite Netflix shows or catch up on some much-needed sleep.
7. Be Patient with Yourself
You don't have to do anything but honor yourself and your feelings at this time. Let us be clear, YOU. DO. NOT. HAVE. TO. DO. JACK right now if you can not, or do not, want to.
For many of us, we are simply burned out on information. This is a highly stressful time and taking the time to be kind to yourself and give your body what it is asking for without any explanations or expectations is crucial.
Lately, our body has been asking for a little extra sleep in the mornings, a second cup of coffee around 3 pm, and about 500 mg of vitamin C. Listen to your body, be patient with yourself, and be sure to do the same for others.
8. Nutrition and Hydration
So, here's the thing, when you eat better and hydrate yourself properly, it's inevitable that with time you will feel better both mentally and physically. This is a no-brainer.
Depending on where you live, fresh produce might be a little harder to come by than usual, or just may not be that convenient when you are planning meals and grocery outings on a long-term trajectory. If you do have access to fresh fruit and veggies, try to freeze some of it to consume in smoothie form to increase its shelf life.
With that said, don't deny yourself that bowl of pasta or half-sleeve of Oreos, especially not right now. You deserve to live your best life at all times!
Also, drink as much water as you can tolerate, and then drink one more glass just to be sure. Proper hydration makes you feel less lethargic and cranky. Plus, it keeps you looking your best so that when this is all over you can stunt on everyone who ever doubted you.
9. Get Fresh Air when Possible
Getting outside should not be taken lightly. In many parts of the world the recommendation is to cover your nose and mouth and wear gloves. Be sure to follow social distancing rules of maintaining a six-foot distance from others, wash your hands often, and don't go outside if you are feeling under the weather.
With that said, getting outside for some fresh air can make a big difference in your mental health. You don't have to be out for long periods of time, but you would be surprised what 15-20 minutes of fresh air can do.
Even if it's not possible for you to go outside, open up those blinds, crack open your windows, flip on that ceiling fan, or bust out that oh-so-cherished box fan that has been collecting dust in the back of your closet since 2014, and enjoy the breeze. Respect to anyone who sits directly in front of it in a lawn chair and sips an alcoholic beverage. We like your style.
10. Build a New Routine
We all have to adjust to a new normal for the time being, so if you are a very schedule-oriented person, this one can be tricky. Routines bring a sense of stability and normalcy to life, so the sooner you build a new routine for yourself, the more you will begin to feel a little more like yourself again.
11. Schedule quality time with your partner, your children, your roommates, your pet, and most importantly, yourself
It's important to set aside time for the people you share a space with to do something unrelated to working, homework, and stressing out. It can help you feel connected, bring you back to the present moment, and give you an opportunity to check in with yourself and those around you.
*Note to Parents: Your children, regardless of their age, will look back on this period of time in one of two ways:
A: It will be remembered where you made new positive memories, spent quality time together, got to know one another on a whole new level, and ultimately, was a period in which they felt safe, supported, and happy, regardless of what was going on in the outside world.
Or B: It will be remember as a time filled with chaos, anxiety, and stress in which they felt scared, unseen, and unsafe.
It is up to you as the parent / adult to decide what type of behavior to model.
12. Give One Another Space... Like, Seriously
Realize that no one knows how to react in this situation. Most of us have never lived through a global pandemic before, so give people room to breathe and a space to decompress.
Space can be allowing your partner or roommate to have a 30 minute-long shower while blasting Tina Turner and doing a hot oil treatment (guilty), so just back up a bit. It does not mean you need to ignore each other; communicate what you need, and be honest.
Nina needs a lot more time with reality TV, alone, under the covers. Justin needs more time to read with his headphones on full blast, sipping cacao. Luna needs more Moana, cheese, and less questions being asked.
13. Take Turns with Your Children
No matter what your new working situation looks like, there is always a way to get everyone's needs met. No one should feel they are solely responsible for all things children when there are two adults in the home.
When it comes to your kids, try to take turns. For us, this looks like an extra-long bath time with Nina so Justin can have a break, or Justin and Luna singing songs in her room so Nina can take a nap.
Kids are a lot of work, and when you're stuck inside, this can be magnified, so listen to your body, communicate your needs, and switch off to meet your children's needs.
14. Communicate... Often!
As awesome as it would be to be able to read minds, we are not there as a human race quite yet.
Communicating clearly during this time is extremely important. It's not only healthy for your relationships with those you love (even during non-pandemic times), it's also healthy for yourself. Be honest about what you want, whether that's 15 minutes alone, a beer at lunch, or a nap.
This is not the time to take other people's needs the wrong way either. If someone is telling you they want to be alone for a bit, don't take it personally, welcome it as a chance to do whatever you have been putting off or ignoring that YOU may need.
15. Bonus Tips:
Justin's: Talk to Yourself! You most likely do this already (who doesn't?), but talking to yourself gives you an opportunity to work through some difficult emotions and feelings while organizing your thoughts and prioritizing your needs.
Sometimes, all we need is ourselves to talk us down from that anxious ledge, so be your biggest support system and have a chat with your favorite person... YOU.
Nina's: Celebrate Yourself! You are amazing, you are smart, you are a survivor. Everything will be alright. In the meantime, do something nice for yourself. Take a long bath, do a face mask, give yourself some credit and a much deserved break.
Remember that all we can do is our best; not every day is going to be wonderful and that's OK. You are a human living through extraordinarily challenging circumstances. Chill. It's gonna be okay.
These are hard times for everyone. Filled with chaos and anxiety. You deserve to feel safe and healthy and supported, and so do the people in your life.
If you share a home with someone, be honest about what you need and take care of one another's emotions to the best of your ability. If you are living by yourself, this does not mean you are alone. Call friends and family or join an online community for the support you need.
No matter what, now is a time to amp up the self-care, listen to our bodies, and have a little bit more compassion for ourselves and one another. You are doing your best, and for today, that is good enough.
We wish you the best of luck finding the inner peace you need and deserve. We would love to hear from you, whether it's something you think we missed, something you would like to add, or an anecdote you would like to share from your experiences, send it our way via Instagram, in the comments section here on the blog, or to our email.
Lastly, down below, you can find a list of resources mentioned in the episode and that we have found helpful and informative. Thank you for reading, remember to subscribe to the show if you haven't already, and sign up for our monthly newsletter to get updates on what is new at Lunita.
NYC Well - Mental Health help from trained professionals for those in the NYC area.
National Domestic Violence Hotline - Help from trained professionals for cases of domestic abuse.
ARK Behavioral Health - An incredibly detailed post with tons of quality mental health and addiction resources
Rehab4Addiction - A fantastic and informative guide on guarding your mental health during COVID-19 from across the pond.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Up-to-date information on all things COVID-19
NYC.gov/Covid - Up-to-date information specific to NYC for all things COVID-19
Spruce CBD - A very informative look at what is giving Americans anxiety during COVID-19.
Grocery Shopping Safety - How to properly sanitize your food and your space after making a trip to the store
Stocking Your Pantry The Smart Way - Self-explanatory
Full Body Flow Yoga - Our daily Yoga routine (love you, Adrienne!)
Get Sleepy - For those nights you just can't seem to fall asleep
Short Workouts - For when you need to get your heart rate up but also have a deadline to meet.